Eko Hotel, Victoria Island: the scene of so many expensive misdemeanours in the past, did its best not to disappoint. Kim Kardashian (pictured sailing into the salubrious Murtala Muhammed International Airport) was billed to “co-host” an event with R’n’B crooner Darey Art-Alade in honour of “Love..Like a Movie”. In other words, it was a “Vals” thing. Lagos being familiar to the metallurgy of snobbery, this involved platinum ticket holders being invited to an exclusive pre-dinner event with her K-ness. Pseudo-ogas lower down the corporate food chain only got to see the show.
I was just over a thousand miles away from the action in Freetown, watching my Twitter timeline cascade with commentary as the evening unfolded. Tweets purred with pleasure at the acrobatics segment, and at the godly qualities of Waje’s voice. There was a sense that in production values and packaging, Lagos had outblinged itself.
And then Ms Kardashian appeared, said, “hey Naija” and vamoosed. The rumour was that she’d been paid 500,000 Benjamins for the honour of mixing with the petro-class. She arrived on Saturday evening (on Air France), and left within twenty-four hours (someone Instagrammed her back at MMIA). Prole class tickets were apparently N100,000 ($640), although quite a few got in gratis on the guest list.
The Lagos elite blows money at puffery, while most of Nigeria suffers. It’s the same as it ever was. I recall Carlos Moore railing against the Gowon era on his trip to Nigeria a couple of years ago – how Lagosians were partying while bodies were lying unburied in the street. Gowon was famous at the time for saying that the problem in Nigeria was not money, but how to spend it.
Reflecting a little on the unfolding disappointment in Lagos, I couldn’t help but think that the narrow slice of KK the audience were granted reflects a cargo cult/import economy/colo-mentality, that dresses its shame in dandified arrogance. Last year, Hugh Masekela played the Motor Boat club. I was lucky to be there (I think I paid 15,000 naira for the privilege). People chatted noisily throughout. The great jazzman could hardly hide his disgust.
There’s something Dubai-esque about the children of the Islands. Pampered lives told in British public school brogues. Bubbles of air-conditioned comfort, which we might think of these days as “Lekki blindness”. Fela is long since dead, but his words rework themselves in the present with ease.
As the disgruntled tweets flowed out on my timeline, I thought of Special K, comfy in her jimjams, the plane rising gradually above the Atlantic, safe from all Lagos harm, smiling to herself that she’d actually 419’d the 419ers. And I went to bed with one final thought: oil turns all who touch it completely insane.
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